Family of ‘big softie’ shot dead in ‘case of mistaken identity’ appeal to public

The daughter of a “big softie” gunned down by a mystery marksman as he walked home last month has launched an emotional appeal for information about her father’s murder.

Police believe 43-year-old Dean Edwards was assassinated in a case of “mistaken identity” after he sustained a single fatal injury to the back of his head as he left Betts Park in Penge, south east London, in the early hours of Sunday July 12.

Detectives have looked at CCTV and knocked doors in the area in an attempt to piece together what happened, but, one month on, they remain perplexed as to why the popular father-of-four and grandfather to five was gunned down.

Dean Edwards
Dean Edwards

Mr Edwards’ daughter Hollie Edwards, 21, told the PA news agency: “Our dad was a friendly, bubbly and loving person.

“He was never confrontational and hated arguments, he was a big softie at heart, loved all the grandchildren and spoiled them.

“He was a good, innocent person.

“He was really generous, used to get all the beers in. You knew you were having a cheap night if you went out with dad. But he’s been taken from us, wrongly.

“Mistaken identity is the only thing that makes sense – and that just doesn’t make sense.”

Hollie Edwards
Hollie Edwards

Ms Edwards appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

“Someone out there knows what happened to our dad,” she said.

“Someone knows who did this.

“Please tell the police any little thing you’ve heard, it might be a big deal.

“We’ve tried to sugarcoat what’s happened with the grandchildren, but the oldest one is eight and he wants and deserves answers as much as we do.”

Police believe Mr Edwards, who had worked for a locally based events hire firm for the last two decades, walked through Betts Park shortly after midnight on the night he died.

Tributes left near the murder scene in Betts Park
Tributes left near the murder scene in Betts Park

He crossed the park and was walking down the alleyway leading onto Croydon Road near his home when he was shot with a 9mm pistol. His lifeless body was discovered at around 2am.

Police said Mr Edwards, who adopted three step-children in his early 20s, was not involved in any criminal activity and had never been in trouble with them.

Detective Chief Inspector Kate Kieran said: “We believe this is a case of mistaken identity.

“There is nothing in Dean’s life, background, family and friends, or in the pubs he visited earlier that evening that indicate he’s had a row or argument – nothing.

“It means we can concentrate on criminality in the area and those with access to firearms.

Detective Chief Inspector Kate Kieran
Detective Chief Inspector Kate Kieran

“Someone has to have been in the park, and he’s been shot some point in this alleyway.

“Someone was in the park, with a gun.

“Why? We are keeping an open mind, but it was not linked to Dean.”

No arrests have been made.

Ms Kieran added: “For there to have been a single person who has got hold of a firearm, shot someone dead in a park – not necessarily the person they were intending – and then not talk about it, that would be highly unusual.

“We really do think there are people out there who know what’s happened – that’s who we want to hear from.

“Nobody has a bad word to say about Dean. This case – with Dean being an innocent victim – has a particular impetus.”

Mr Edwards’ death was one among a spate of violent murders in the capital during a short period last month.

Billy McCullagh, 27, was gunned down in Harlesden, north west London, on July 16, a day after 18-year-old Ahmed Yasin-Ali was found stabbed to death in Maida Vale, west London.

British champion fighter Jahreau Shepherd was stabbed to death in Kennington, south London, on July 11, while a 19-year-old man was left in a critical condition and two 15-year-old boys were seriously injured in a triple shooting in the Broadwater Farm estate, north London, on July 23.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 020 8721 4868, or via 101 quoting CAD 1402/12JUL.